I was reading this interesting post from the Hong Kong Bmw club site linked from member Wan888's BBS RS FS post. I don't know that much about the racing history about the M, and wanted to post here to validate the facts. Do we have any E30 M3 Historians here? haha Maybe Magnus can whip up a facts page!
here it is..posted by Charles,
"The BMW M3 E30 is the most successful touring car of all time. From the time that it first appeared in Group A racing in 1987 until its last race at the end of 1992, the M3 won virtually every major championship and long distance races in which it contested. No other touring car before or since can match its record. The two cars that come the closest are also come from the BMW stable – the 320i Super Tourer of the 1990s and the famous 3.0 CSL “Batmobile” of the 1970s, but neither quite matches the M3’s record.
BMW is to touring car racing what Ferrari is to Formula One. International touring car racing is almost inconceivable without a BMW of some sort competing.
The Road Car
In the 1980s, BMW dominated the European Touring Car Championship. Firstly with the 635Csi under Group 2 regulations in 1980-81, then under Group A regulations with the 528i in 1982 and finally the 635Csi between 1983 and 1986. By 1987, there was a need to replace the 635Csi (more on this car later) with something more competitive against newer generation machinery like the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and Holden Commodores. Initially, BMW’s motorsport division, M-Sport, briefly considered the M6 as a potential replacement for the 635Csi. The M6 was the limited edition M-Sport produced version of the 635Csi. It featured a 24-valve version of the 635Csi’s classic 3.5 litre straight six. However the cost of producing 5,000 production versions of the expensive and exotic M6 to meet homologation requirements for Group A racing ruled it out.
Instead, the decision was made to homologate BMW’s planned M-Sport version of its smaller 3-series E30. The M3 was conceived in the mid 1980s. A specialised 2.3 litre 16-valve, DOHC , electronic fuel injected engine was developed for the M3. This engine was developed using the same bore and stroke dimensions as the BMW M1’s 3.5 litre six-cylinder engine. BMW’s road and competition cars traditionally used straight-six engines. There was some resistance to choosing a four-cylinder engine over a straight six for the M3. However, the four cylinder engine was chosen in preference to a six cylinder engine precisely because it was lighter in weight and helped give better weight distribution within the body for much superior race track dynamics. Another reason for choosing a four-cylinder engine was that it would put the M3 into the 1601-2500 cc class in Group A racing. This meant that the racing version of the car would weigh 960 kilograms. Combined with 10-inch wide wheel rims and expected power outputs of up to 300 bhp, this would mean that the M3 would have an excellent power to weight ratio to go with its excellent weight distribution and handling balance.
As well as the special four-cylinder engine, the M3 received front and rear wings, blistered wheel arches designed to accommodate 10-inch wheel rims, vented 284mm front discs and solid 250mm rear discs and a modified suspension.
The prototype version of the M3 was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1985 and the car went into production in 1986. In production specification the M3 produced 150kW (200 bhp) from its 2.3 litre engine, a top speed of 146 mph, and 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds.
The original M3 was followed by three sporting evolution versions. These evolution versions were built to in order to homologate various improved components for the race cars. Under FIA rules, a minimum of 500 production versions of the evolution car had to be built before the improvement components could be used on the race cars.
The BMW M3 Evo 1 was released in Februay 1987. The Evo 1 received extended front and rear spoilers and a light weight trunk lid, both designed to save weight and increase stability in the race cars.
In 1988, the BMW M3 Evolution 2 was released. This car received new wings, with a lower extension to the rear bootlid wing and an extended front spoiler. Power from the engine was up to 220 bhp. The increased power came through the use of lightened flywheel, replacement camshafts and pistons, air intake trunk and a Bosch Motronic chip. All of which would help the race cars produce more power.
The final evolution, the M3 Sport Evo, received a capacity increase up to 2,467 cc via an elongated camshaft throw and bigger bores. It also received three way adjusted front and rear wings for extra downforce. There were also enlarged wheel arches capable of housing up to 18-inch diameter wheels in the race cars. Power was increased to 238 bhp. The M3 Sport Evo was required to maintain the competitiveness of the M3 against the Mercedes 190E and Audi 300 Quattros in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).
Competition History of the E30 M3
In Group A competition form, the M3 developed just on 225kW (300bhp) and weighed just 960 kilograms.
The M3 made its competition debut in early 1987 at the Calder Park Raceway, in Melbourne, Australia. Two M3s were entered by the Australian factory BMW team for Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst. Richards took pole, but the two cars finished fifth and sixth, an inauspicious debut for the car which was to go on become the most successful touring car in history.
Not long after its competition debut in Australia, the factory BMW teams assembled at Monza in Italy for the round one of the first and only World Touring Car Championship. For the World Touring Car Championship, BMW M3s were entered by the Schnitzer, Bigazzi, Linder and CiBiEmme teams. Drivers included Roberto Ravaglia, Emanuele Pirro, Altfrid Heger, Marcus Oestriech, Luis Perez-Sala, Roland Ratzenburger (who was killed in a Simtek in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix – the same race that claimed the life of Senna), Christian Danner, Johnny Cecotto and Gianfranco Brancatelli. These drivers were amongst the best touring car drivers in the world at the time. Ravaglia and Brancatelli were former European Touring Car Champions, Cecotto was a former 500cc Motorcycle World Champion and former Grand Prix driver with Toleman and Danner was another former Grand Prix driver. The other drivers were young stars, most with F3000 experience.
The M3’s competition in the 1987 WTCC included Ford (Sierra RS Cosworth), Holden (Commodore VL), Alfa Romeo (75 Turbo) and Maserati (Bi-Turbo).
In the opening race at Monza, a Sierra took pole, with no fewer than six BMW M3s in positions two to seven on the grid. The Sierra retired after only a few laps, and BMW M3s went on to finish in the first six positions, only to be disqualified for running illegal light weight bootlids. That left an Australian entered Holden Commodore as the winner.
The first Australian race and the Monza race both highlighted the BMW M3’s potential for the 1987 season, despite the ultimate lack of success in these two races.
After this somewhat unplanned start, the M3s went on the dominate the World, European, German and Australian Touring Car Championships in 1987.
Jim Richards won the 1987 ATCC. Wini Vogt was the European Champion. Eric van de Poole was the German Champion. Roberto Ravaglia was the World Champion.
BMW also took the manufacturers title in the European Championship and finished second to Ford in the World Championship.
This remarkable performance in 1987 came despite the M3 being significantly less powerful than its opposition. As noted earlier, the Sierra had about 360 bhp in early 1987, but by the end of 1987, it had 460 bhp. The M3’s had no significant gain in power during the season. Up until the debut of the RS500 in August, the M3s had no trouble defeating the Sierras. Prior to the introduction of the RS500, the M3 had a better power to weight ratio, better handling and superior reliability. The result was that M3’s won three of the first five rounds (including the Spa 24 hour race) of the WTCC compared to one a piece for Ford and Holden. Once the RS500 arrived, the M3s lost their power to weight advantage, but retained their superior reliability and handling over the Sierra. In the final six rounds, the M3s took one more win, compared to four for Ford and one for Holden. At the end of the 1987 WTCC, Roberto Ravaglia was crowned World Champion, and BMW had four victories, Ford had five and Holden had two. Combined with the four outright victories, BMW took all eleven class victories. The way the points structure was set up in the World Touring Car Championship, class victories were as important as outright, thus helping Ravaglia to be champion.
More championships and victories followed in 1988. The World Touring Car Championship was cancelled after just one season. However, thanks to a points system that favoured class victories over outright victories, Roberto Ravaglia won the 1988 European Touring Car Championship. Ravaglia’s BMW M3 also scored three outright ETCC victories to go with the dominance of the 2.5 litre class. During 1988, the M3 took its second straight Spa 24 hour victory and its first Wellington 500 victory in New Zealand. New Zealand driver Trevor Crowe also took out the 1988 Asia Pacific Touring Car Championship, while Frank Synter won the British Touring Car Championship.
The M3 was hardly the dominant car in 1988. During the 1988 season the BMW M3 Evo 2 debuted (the Evo 1 was used from the start of the M3’s competition career), giving a little more horsepower and allowing teams to use a six speed gearbox.
Despite these improvements, it couldn’t beat the RS500 out and out performance. However, it was more reliable than the RS500 and on tight, twisty circuits such as the Wellington street circuit or the Macau street circuit, the M3 was the best car to have due to its excellent handling.
In 1989, the FIA cancelled the European Touring Car Championship. BMW concentrated on the German, British and Italian championships instead. Roberto Ravaglia took his fourth straight major championship for BMW, winning the 1989 German Touring Car Championship. The German Championship ran a variant of the Group A regulations, but allowed further engine freedoms and adopted a handicap system on successful drivers to keep the competition close. The BMW M3 Evo developed about 330 bhp for the 1989 German Touring Car Championship, and was more than a match for the Mercedes opposition. As well as victory in Germany, the M3s also won their second straight Wellington 500.
The 1990 season wasn’t the most successful for the M3, but even so, it still recorded its third victory in both the Spa 24 hour race and Wellington 500. The Italian, Dutch, Finnish, Swiss and Belgian championships were also won by M3s. In the Italian Championship, Roberto Ravaglia took his fifth major touring car championship in as many seasons. In the German series, BMW finished second.
For the 1991 season, the Evo Sport debuted, and power was increased to around 360 bhp. BMW couldn’t win the German series that year, finishing only fifth in the title chase. However, a 2.0 litre version of the M3 was developed for the new British two-litre rules, and Will Hoy was the BTCC champion in an M3. Also, 1991 season resulted in a fourth victory for an M3 in the Wellington 500. BMW returned to competition in the Australian Touring Car Championship during 1991, with the little M3 Sport Evo in the hands of Tony Longhurst and former World Champion Alan Jones. The M3 Sport Evo’s were the only cars to beat Nissan’s Skyline GTR in the 1991 ATCC, with Longhurst winning the Amaroo Park round.
The 1992 season was the final one for the M3 in Europe. A fourth victory in the Spa 24 hour race was recorded. However, the German championship eluded BMW once again. By the 1992 season, the M3 was an obsolete car, and the fact that BMW drivers were still able to win races in the German series that year is a testament to the strong basic design of the M3.
In Australia, in 1992 the M3 once again took out a round of the Australia Touring Car Championship and managed to finish fourth in the Bathurst 1000. Tony Longurst and Paul Morris defeated the European Schnitzer BMW team to record the fifth straight victory for BMW in the Wellington 500.
Changes to the regulations in the various European championships in 1993, plus the introduction of the new BMW 3-series E36 meant that the M3 E30 was retired from European competition at the end of the 92 season. However, there was one last season left for the M3s in Australia. The M3 was allowed to compete in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1993 despite the introduction of the new V8 Supercar regulations. For their final season of competition, the Australian factory team ran four BMWs in the 1993 ATCC, occasionally scoring podium finishes against the much quicker Ford and Holden V8s. The M3 E30 went out on a high note at the end of the 1993 season, when Charles Kwan won the Macau Ghia Trophy race.
There were three races that the M3 had a particularly spectacular record. These were the Spa 24-hour race (victories in 1987, 88, 90 and 92), the Wellington 500, where it scored five straight victories and the Macau Ghia Trophy race, where it scored five victories. The one major race that eluded the BMW M3 was the Bathurst 1000. Late in the 1987 race the Cecotto/Brancatelli M3 appeared to be on course to win the race, until a brush with the wall dropped it back. That was the closest the M3 got to victory at Bathurst. The Bathurst circuit was the hardest circuit in the world for the M3, due to the long uphill climb that highlighted the M3’s lack of power.
Why do I suggest that the M3 was the most successful touring car ever? On paper it wasn’t a match for the much more powerful Sierras, Nissan Skyline GTRs, Holden Commodores, or Audi 300 Quattros. Yet, it was still able to beat these rivals regularly.
The reasons were that the M3 had an excellent, well balanced chassis that worked on any circuit. It had bullet proof reliability. The resources of the BMW factory were poured into continually developing the M3 over seven seasons, to ensure that it always remained near the front of the field. The M3’s competition career coincided with a time when the majority of the world ran similar touring car regulations. Finally, some of the best touring car drivers ever drove the M3s for various BMW factory teams during this period. Put simply, there was no other manufacturer that could consistently match BMW during this period. Such was the success of the M3 that it will be a long time before its international touring car record will ever be matched or surpassed."
here is a link to the original post. it has some race results.